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British Biology Olympiad

1996   (in English)

Information is on the UK Biology Competitions website and the website of the Royal Society of Biology.  Information is included in newsletters published by the Royal Society of Biology. Adverts are placed in several publications and STEM organisations are involved in promoting the competitions. Key dates are usually included in the Association for Science Education year planner.

UK Biology Competitions (UKBC) organises the British Biology Olympiad, Intermediate Biology Olympiad and Biology Challenge, a competition for younger pupils. UKBC is a Special Interest Group of the Royal Society of Biology.

The members of UKBC are all unpaid volunteers.

The British Biology Olympiad has three rounds. The first paper is taken in schools in January.  The second paper is taken in schools in March by top-scoring students in the first round. The top twelve students in the second round are invited to take part in the finals which include practical tests. They take place in April at the University of Warwick.

Pupils taking A-level or IB Biology in all types of school are eligible to enter.

The British Biology Olympiad consists of two multiple choice papers taken online in schools. Top students are invited to take part in team selection for the IBO. This involves a theory paper based on IBO questions.

The finals are held at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences. Practical tests and a short theory test take place over three days.


Whether or not competitors receive any training or guidance before they take part in the British Biology Olympiad is entirely up to the teachers in each school.

The first day of the finals is used for some training, including use of laboratory equipment, some unfamiliar botany & other topics the students may not have covered but which might be needed for the practical tests.  UKBC volunteers do this in the university labs.

Students in the UK must give priority to the public examinations which take place in May to July and on which their university places depend. This means that there is little training possible once the team has been selected except perhaps to practise some questions from previous IBO competitions.

Team training takes place during the two weeks before the IBO at Reading University, Reading School, the Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens.

There are no materials made available to students other than some past questions from the BBO competition published on the website.

Past IBO papers are made available to the team members and they are provided with a copy of Campbell or similar on request.

Gold, Silver and Bronze medals (no value) & certificates are awarded on the basis of the results of the first round.  Certificates are also awarded to those who are Highly Commended and Commended.

Those choosing to attend the awards ceremony may receive additional small gifts.  Finalists receive books and team members also receive student membership of the Royal Society of Biology.

There is a press release when results are announced.  Local newspapers may occasionally feature individual winners or local schools.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council provides funds to support team training and participation in the IBO.

Other support is in kind.  Warwick University provides laboratories and technical support during the national finals.

The Royal Society of Biology organises the award ceremony and provides administrative support.

See above, the Royal Society of Biology is the organisation which provides this support. The UK Government is not directly involved in the BBO at this time.

Anyone, from any type of school or FE College, or being home-tutored, may enter the first round.

In addition to normal IBO Rules, it is necessary for prospective team members to have studied in the UK for at least the two years before the IBO.

2011 1700 students

2012 2850 students

2013 4200 students

2014 5056 students

2015 6000 students

2016 7020 students

2017 7500 students

2018 7800 students

2019 9465 students

from September to July.
minimum 4 hours, maximum 5 hours.

Dr Andrew Treharne MBE FLS FRSB

c/o Royal Society of Biology Charles Darwin House 12 Roger Street London WC1N 2JU England
The Royal Society of Biology Charles Darwin House 12 Roger Street London WC1N 2JU England
by GB_broadb last modified Jul 09, 2019 03:45 PM